Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Keep the Routine

I've had a hard couple of weeks recently and dropped off from doing my homework from the lessons and from the flash cards...and it's noticeable.

I've started to get a time slot back again but it'll take a couple of days to get back into the flow I think so it does go to show that you must keep going each week and not procrastinate.

Lets see how I feel next week, see if I feel like I'm back on track.

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Dipped My Toe in the Water

If you read many articles on learning a new language they all agree on a solitary point ... those that practice in real environments progress significantly quicker than those that don't.

There is one big problem with this ... it's bloody scary...

But the other week I went to a local group in Wrexham and sat around people speaking Welsh and I'm convinced everyone is correct, it will speed up my development.

So much so I've also signed up for ffrindiaith at SaySomethingInWelsh so I can look forward to a Skype call with a Welsh speaker on a regular basis.

So my process now for learnng is:

  1. Revise the course notes and listen to the CD tracks for each unit
  2. Once I'm confident with the pronunciation of the course unit develop flash cards and include them in my regular revision
  3. Get out there and try to use the welsh I have learnt 

And who knows, maybe next week I'll try speaking Welsh at work.

Monday, 23 March 2015

Need To Mix It Up

This last week I've hit a snag because of my success with flash cards.

Using the flash cards I've been able to bring my revision cycle up to date with the lessons. During this time I haven't been using the audio that comes with the course and so I've been making up the pronunciation based on how I read the words. Not a bad idea considering I should be able to pronounce words easily now..but I can't. I also don't merge words into each other like native speakers nor do I put the emphasis in the correct places.

Conclusion ... walk then run.

So going forward what I've now realised is I have to listen to the audio until I'm comfortable and then record the flash cards, I think I will have to do some re-recoding (think of it as additional revision ;-)  ).

Of course this also highlights that I'm starting to learn sentences rather then just simple questions and answers, therefore the time has come to start to talk to natural welsh speakers, I just need to pluck up the courage.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Time is Fleeting

This last week has been struggle to practice, I haven't managed to create any new flash cards this week or to do any revision until today. This is worrying as we are starting to get into more difficult areas trying to understand "your" which is a different word structure to English.

Last week I had put together some new cards however, and these have been useful tonight to revise the first part of this new word format. The cards did take some time to work through but I started to understand and think hard about the word structure, which some success, which was pleasing.

204 cards in 34 minutes is a slow progress and shows the level of difficulty. As some of these cards are repeats from before, cards I'd previously mastered, it shows the benefit of the flash card process in randomly selecting items for revision.

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Panic Still Persists

When ever I've tried to use a some words from a different language before, when abroad, panic has always set in and I found I'd forgotten the very few phrases I tried very hard to remember on the flight. More often this is only "Yes", "No", "Thank you" and "Do you speak English?".

I was hoping that learning a new language would at least give me the skills to get past this small hurdle but on a recent trip to Stockholm for two days I hit the same problem. It made me reflect and, in truth, I struggle just as much with unexpected questions in the Welsh class and somehow I need to get past this.

The flash cards are definitely helping (see page links for Anki Flash Cards) but I need to somehow get past this panic and be able to absorb and understand what is being said to me, to have the confidence that what I've learnt is passable even if not perfect.

In an attempt to get used to hearing how people speak in Welsh I've started listening to Radio Cymru in the car during my daily commute. I don't necessarily understand what is being said but, as I listen, I am now able to discern the start and stop of words and some words come easily into my mind. Occasionally I get a glimpse of what they are talking about - even if there isn't any detail. This I'll aim to continue and I'll see how it goes. I definitely understand it more than I do Radio 1 ;-)

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

The Cards Increase

I had a lesson last night and tonight I decided to make some cards for the Anki app.

I find it quite useful as a focus to revise and then running through a set of cards is a good break from what I've just learnt.

Tonight it was 140 cards in 16 minutes and it seemed better, although the new cards has increased the variation in sections and therefore reduced the number of hits for my problem areas; therefore I think I might have to do some extra work on those tomorrow. This is a simple enough exercise as the deck can be filtered by tag.

A definite step forward but is it a new toy moment... we'll see.

Monday, 23 February 2015

Initial Progress with Flash Cards

Tonight has been a struggle.

When the database of flash cards is first constructed the number of cards to view is low, the variation is low (in terms of subject headings) while the repetition is low.  As the database gets much larger the number of cards to view is higher, the variation (in terms of subject headings) is higher and the repetition of that subject matter is less. Therefore the test of remembering is much more challenging but much more illuminating as far as problem areas are concerned.

Tonight I had 20 old cards and 55 new cards, I completed 157 views in 21 minutes. This shows that some cards were problematic.

The problem sections were I did/We did/Did you and I have got/We have/Have you got so the challenge now is to focus in those areas. For the cards I've created this is Section 4 and Section 5 so I'll create custom decks and train with those in addition to the daily view.

Fingers crossed :-)